Interesting post Riverdale.
We define ourselves and others by our nationalities, ethnicities, hair colors, genders, sexual orientations, psychological aberrations, ages, professions; we're members and followers of traditions, trends, cults, philosophies, political parties.
Somehow we've robbed ourselves of the ultimate freedom- the innate gift of independent thinking.
I don't follow. Everything you mentioned changes due to independent thinking, except for ethnicity. Then again, the ways in which we define ourselves and others is the result of independent thinking. We make the decision. Even if our decision is traditional, those traditions have changed over time due to independent thinking.
Nothing prevents us from changing trends, philosophies, ect. I'm all for independent thought, but independent thought does not mean we ignore what has been and what is. We are members of traditions trends, ect, we are social animals; we are social animals with the ability to influence our social setting.
But in no other area of self- definition and personal progression have we allowed ourselves to be so devastatingly cheated as with what SHOULD be belief, but is RELIGION.
Not that organized religion is without flaw, but organized religion does commonly incorporate "belief" in one form or another.
So we're pack animals, creatures of comfort and habit. Most of us are more content to be led than to lead or explore alternatives. We have a learned, irrational tendency to unthinkingly conform, to be attracted by novelty on a base level and yet be immobilized by a strange neophobia where the spiritual is concerned. We've become used to repressing, avoiding, and ultimately denying ourselves the frightening- but imperative to spiritual growth- exploration of our own souls and their unknown destiny and fate, but also tragically their infinite potential.
I agree with your sentiment here, but there are some problems, I think. Spirituality is constantly changing. Those who claim to be returning to the past, or to the roots of their faith tradition have fooled themselves. Modern fundamentalism bills itself as the traditional religion, the religion of the past, but fundamentalism is just as modern as the atheism of Dawkins and his cohorts. The real concern is not the lack of spiritual change, but the direction of that change.
We cling to tradition, almost unquestioningly accepting what's served to us in terms of stale spiritual fare. We imitate rather than innovate, not daring to stray from the beaten paths where it would be, ironically, most important. We timorously go with the flow and are swallowed in the masses of collective non- thinking and brainwashing. Most of us have been indoctrinated from birth, ostensibly for our own good, with the idea that organized religion is the only way to save ourselves. Even in the most common case of religion by "default", adoption of the religion of our families, we have an inertia- like tendency to accept the default and very rarely give a serious thought, "practicing" or not, to opt completely out.
What's wrong with traditional religion, anyway? Would you level the same criticisms against the Dalai Lama, or Thomas Merton? In the spirit of '68, let's remember that traditions are not necessarily obsolete just because the sun set.
WHY, in our supposedly otherwise so advanced era are we still so dark- age backward in spiritual progression?
As you can gather, I disagree with your conclusion that we are "backward in spiritual progression". The fact that people such as yourself are around to talk about the issue shows that we've made some progress. Consider the mingling of spiritual traditions the world is witnessing right now.
Of course there are the obvious benefits of community and comfort, guidance and a certain peace of mind. But we have to weigh them against the negatives. We can't deny that we're fully aware of the almost unfathomably detrimental, oppressive influence that organized religion has always had on the political- economical, social/ moral/ ideological evolution of man. The books and scriptures are filled with inconsistencies, contradictions, and destructive teachings. Religious fundamentalism with its deliberate misinterpretations and the resulting horrors of terrorism, prejudice and discrimination are spreading again at a sickening rate, and brutal wars are still being fought, as ever, because of these teachings. Extreme misogynistic practices, physical mutilation, unwanted pregnancies and barbaric lynchings are (to mention just a few) daily occurences in the name of various religions. There can be no realistic secularization on a global scale.
Yes, organized religion has been involved in a host of terrible things. But organized religion has also been involved in a host of wonderful things for mankind. Because organized religion has the capacity for both good and bad, the reasonable conclusion is that organized religion is not the problem. The way men chose to use organized religion is the problem. Looking at this passage, I think you already know this - you mention fundamentalists.
But you also say something else in this passage. "The books and scriptures are filled with inconsistencies, contradictions, and destructive teachings." Inconsistencies and contradictions are necessary. Ever heard of Zen paradoxes? Inconsistencies and contradictions encourage reflection. As for destructive teachings, you will have to give evidence of this. Any teaching can be twisted into something dangerous. I'm not sure which scriptures you are referring to, but I do not think you can so broadly generalize about scripture.
Why can't we let go?
We can't? That's strange, I've known many who have. As a species, we probably cannot let go of religion because we are naturally spiritual creatures and communal worship is generally part of that natural spiritual need.
Isn't it painfully obvious that it's highest time for a real SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION?
Can't we begin to think for ourselves? To take the initiative, make a gesture, a sensible sacrifice and find the courage- as opposed to passively distancing ourselves even as nonpracticers- to officially
When isn't it time for good spiritual teaching? You know, from time to time good teachers do emerge.
Thubten Yeshe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thomas Merton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Just a few to look at.
RENOUNCE OUR RELIGIONS
and seek our spiritual identities on our own? It's ludicrous that intelligent beings seem to be ignoring the fact that it is a logical impossibility to embrace and adhere to an entire doctrine, a set of beliefs with all it's intricacies, implications, ambiguities and blatant contradictions and to rationally, honestly say: "Yes, this is what I believe."
I disagree. Why is it logically impossible to embrace the ethic of reciprocity and honestly claim to believe said doctrine?
Everyone has their own path, and this is something that organized religion tends to understand.
Is it so hard to recognize the massive discrepancy between "religion" and "belief"? The obvious paradox? The joke that's been played on us as an ancient means of subjugation and control under the guise of spirituality?
A belief- a true faith- is a conviction.
The term "religious conviction" in conjunction with organized religion is an oxymoron.
A SPIRITUAL conviction is the most personal, individual belief there can be and the result of a perhaps lifelong journey of difficult, frightening, painful and rewarding introspection, reflection, and intense soul- searching. It can ONLY come from the deepest self and not from opaque historical accounts and myths or elitist, undemocratic doctrines DICTATED by others.
I think the discrepancy only exists if we assume religion to always be it's nastiest manifestation. Individual spirituality can be just as dangerous and deadly as organized religion. Suicide cults, for example. In the spirit of '68, let's remember Manson.
Organized religion does not pretend that religion, spirituality, is not a personal journey. Even the fundamentalists say that the worshiper must have a "personal relationship with God".
Spirituality does not come from a book, instead those myths help the individual find within himself that spirituality. The books, the scripture, these point the way. Most Axial Age and post-Axial Age scripture makes a note of this fact.
What is ultimately more dangerous- change or standstill? Pacifistic upheaval or passive complacency?
There is no standstill. Religion is constantly changing. Fundamentalism is not the tradition of the ancients, it's a modern faith. The choice is not standstill or change, the choice is what sort of change should we see. Then go out and be that change.
Is it overly idealistic to attempt to begin the singlemost overdue, admittedly ambitious change in the history of humanity-
or is it our moral responsibility?
It is our responsibility to be a good person. Our responsibility to treat others with compassion. If an ancient text helps someone cultivate compassion, what's the problem?